The Differences Between Camping and Glamping 


For some, a nice, rugged camping trip is their idea of heaven on earth, while for others, only glamping will do. What are the differences between camping and glamping, anyway?

Here are the differences between camping and glamping:

  • Where you’ll stay
  • Cooking options
  • Storage capacity
  • Temperature control
  • Access to amenities 
  • Sleeping options
  • Water access

Whether you’re interested in trying camping or glamping, this guide will dive deep and explore the differences between the two so you can decide which to start with first! 

Camping vs. Glamping – 7 Very Key Differences Between Them

1. Where You’ll Stay

The most profound difference by far when it comes to camping and glamping is where you’ll stay.

Let’s start with camping first, since it’s been around for far longer and it is the classic in the eyes of many. 

When you camp, you have a few lodging options, but not tons. You can sleep in a tent under the stars that you put up yourself. You can also sleep in a motorhome or travel trailer if you have access to those. 

While lodging in a cabin is technically an acceptable form of camping, by that point, you’re blurring the line between camping and glamping. 

We say that because when glamping, you would never, ever stay in a tent. Glamping is far more luxurious than camping, and that requires upscale lodging options as well. 

Cabins are one option for glamping but far from the only one. You can also stay in an Airstream, which is a posh and expensive travel trailer, or perhaps a yurt, a cube, a farmhouse, a barn, a cottage, a hut, or a dome. 

Even luxury lodges are on the table depending on what your budget is and what kind of glamping experience you’re interested in!

Here’s the key takeaway. When camping, you may or may not have a roof over your head, but when glamping, you always have a roof over your head. 

2. Cooking Options

When camping, you get to go back to basics. You’ll forage for firewood and perhaps even live off the land, collecting berries and fishing. 

At the very least, you have to start a campfire every night for both warmth and to cook your meals. 

Most campers will eat simple foods such as hot dogs on a stick and roasted marshmallows for making s’mores. You can even make coffee over a fire, and it’s known as cowboy coffee.

Is it as good as the regular stuff made in a coffee machine? No, of course not, but it’s certainly better than nothing!

Now, some campers get tired of only having a campfire for making food, because it does limit their options. They might bring battery-powered cookers or stoves to make more sophisticated meals.

Of course, if you do this, then you have to carry whatever cooking equipment you bring with you, and that can get physically exhausting and even painful. 

Now let’s switch gears and talk about glamping. When glamping, since you’re safely indoors, you have all the amenities you could need, which we’ll talk more about shortly.

One of those amenities is electricity. Oh, and outlets too. 

Many cabins, yurts, and other glamping lodging options have kitchen equipment for you to use so you don’t even have to bring your own. 

You’ll have a bonafide coffeemaker, an oven for proper cooking, and a grill for more consistent cooking than what open flames can deliver.

On top of that, you might have a fridge and freezer for storing your ingredients so they stay fresher longer.

When you’re camping, you have to eat what you have when you have it or it will go stale or even rancid. 

3. Storage Capacity

If you’re into the idea of packing extensively, then glamping is the only option for you.

A camping trip is not the same as a vacation, so you’re not supposed to have a suitcase or several stuffed full of clothes, accessories, equipment, and gear.

When glamping though, you do have that luxury. 

After all, you’re staying at a spacious yurt or farmhouse. You’re practically lodging at a hotel, so you might as well bring all the creature comforts you want.  You have the space to store it all.

That’s not the case at all when camping. Essentially, if it doesn’t fit in your backpack, then you can’t bring it. 

You can’t overload your backpack too much, because if you do, then you’ll have a miserable camping experience. Your bag will slow you down, lead to aches and pains, and exhaust you day in and day out.

That’s why many campers pack strategically, bringing layers, choosing reversible garments, and only carrying what’s really important. 

For the best camping gear, check out our recommended camping gear.

4. Temperature Control

Another important way that camping and glamping diverge is when it comes to temperature control. 

Let’s be real, when camping, you don’t really get temperature control. Well maybe a little but not much more than that.

Hopefully, you bought a tent that doesn’t allow winds to easily permeate. Even still, if you’re cold, the best you can do is tuck up your sleeping bag to your chin. 

If you’re camping in an RV or travel trailer, then you could always run the heating system, but that can drain your battery and leave you stranded by the morning. 

You just have to grin and bear it most times and avoid camping in cold temperatures. 

When glamping, you have no such concerns as those above. Your yurt or hut is at the very least insulated, and the solid surfaces throughout do not let in the outdoor air. 

You’ll frequently have an adjustable thermostat too just like you do back home, especially if you select more expensive luxury lodging options.

If you like it warmer, then no matter what the temperature outside is like, you can have your space warmer. The same is true if you like things cooler.

You won’t be left shivering or sweating. 

5. Access to Amenities 

What kinds of amenities do you want? If you’re glamping, then you can have everything you need and then some.

We already discussed that you have access to electricity. That has further-reaching implications than being able to make steaming hot coffee or chilling your food in the fridge.

You can also bring your smartphone, your tablet, or your laptop to enjoy some entertainment or even get some work done. You should have outlets available for charging your devices, after all. 

You’ll also have lights, heating and cooling, and running water, which we’ll talk more about in just a moment.

If you’re camping in an RV, then you have limited amenities. You can get running water and electricity if you use the city water and electrical hookups, but you’re limited on both. 

That’s assuming, of course, that the park or campsite you’re staying at even offers these amenities, as some don’t. 

In that case, then you’ll have to boondock, using your own power supply (and draining your battery in the process) sparingly in the evening and then powering down completely overnight. 

Unless you have solar panels or a generator.

You won’t have a reliable place to charge your phone, and you might not even get cell service or reliable Internet, so that device becomes practically useless. 

If you want to entertain yourself and the family after dark, you might bring a battery-powered DVD player.

Otherwise, sitting out amongst the stars and chatting with your friends or family is a nice way to pass the time completely technology-free. 

When camping in a tent, you don’t have any amenities except the water around you and the heat, light, and warmth you generate from a roaring fire. 

6. Sleeping Options 

Your sleeping options are rather limited when camping. 

If you’re staying in a tent, then you can roll out a sleeping bag on the tent floor, but this isn’t the most comfortable thing ever, especially if the ground is hard and uneven. 

The coldness from the ground can also rise up and into your tent, leaving you shivering.

That’s why some campers opt for a raised cot. It’s several inches up from the ground to prevent the aforementioned issues. 

If you’re camping in a travel trailer or an RV, then you get plusher lodging options still. You can sleep on a couch or in a bed. The bed might be bunk-sized, or perhaps you lucked out and you have a queen-sized or king-sized bed to slumber in. 

That’s the rule, not the exception when glamping. You won’t sleep anywhere close to the ground, and you don’t need a sleeping bag. 

You’ll have a sizable bed with high-thread-count linens, marshmallow-like pillows, and a firm but soft mattress. You’ll get just as good of a night’s sleep as you would when at home or perhaps even better! 

You can sleep well in an RV or travel trailer too, but compared to a glamping setup that has a plush bed and temperature control? Not as well. 

7. Water Access

The last factor we have to discuss is access to water.

When camping, you can get your water in several different ways. As we mentioned before, if the park or campsite has water hookups, then you can plug in your RV and keep your freshwater tank full.

At some campgrounds, you’re only permitted to use so much water, but at least what you’re getting is fresh. At others you can use as much as you wish.

You could also stock up on bottled water in a travel trailer or RV, but bulk bottled water is heavy and can take up a lot of space.

What if you’re camping in a motorhome or travel trailer? Then you have even fewer options for staying hydrated.

You can pack water, but you can usually only bring a certain amount because you don’t want to break your back carrying the water. 

You can also buy a potable water filter to take river or lake water, filter it on the spot, and have reliable potable water anytime. 

Now compare that to glamping. Your yurt fridge may come fully stocked with water. If not, then you can buy it by the pack and refrigerate or freeze it so you never have to feel thirsty for a moment during your glamping experience.

You’ll also have running water for washing your hands and showering. 

Showering is something that campers often forego unless they’re okay bathing in lakes. 

If your camper or travel trailer has a built-in shower, then you’ll use that, but you have to shower fast so you don’t burn through your entire freshwater supply. 

The Pros and Cons of Camping

Now that you better understand the differences between camping and glamping, let’s take the next two sections to go over the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of lodging. 

Table comparing the pros and cons of camping.

Pros

  1. You Can Truly Disconnect

When was the last time you put your phone down, turned off your computer, and stopped watching Netflix?

For most of us, we go hours without technology such as if we have to at work or school, but that’s about it. 

It’s a hard temptation to give up technology when it’s all around you, after all!

When camping, technology is no longer all around you. As we said before, your Internet connection is spotty and you don’t have a place to charge your phone reliably, so you have to disconnect.

Once you spend a few days sans emails, social media, and news headlines, you might feel more refreshed and focused and perhaps even happier. 

  1. You Get to Spend More Time in Nature

Most people don’t spend enough time outside. You’re missing out on the benefits of vitamin D, which can bolster your mental health and improve your mood.

When camping, you’ll get to be out in nature 24/7 or darn near close. You can wake up and see a sunset peeking over the trees or watch the beauty of the painted sky as dusk begins to settle across the horizon.

These are priceless moments that make camping worth it again and again! 

  1. It Builds Character 

Is camping easy? Sometimes, yes, but not really. It becomes easier the longer you do it, but for beginners, there are challenges afoot at every turn. 

You might wonder then, why do people even willingly put themselves through that? Some people enjoy the challenges of camping because it’s a great way to build their character. 

  1. You Develop Great Survival Skills

Additionally, camping will teach you all sorts of valuable skills that can come in handy in survival situations.

You’ll know how to pitch a tent, how to gut a fish, how to start a fire and safely put one out, and perhaps even how to filter water for potability. 

If you ever find yourself in a catastrophic scenario, all these skills will behoove you greatly. 

Cons

  1. It Can Get Kind of Grungy

Not showering is okay if you’re only camping overnight, but for a weekend or multi-day stay, it’s not such an acceptable proposition anymore. 

Some people are fine dealing with the grunge of camping, and they’re usually more experienced campers. Others though find it very foreign to go more than 24 hours without showering and won’t be able to enjoy much else of the camping experience. 

  1. And Sometimes Boring, Too

Most of us are used to scrolling through our phones in the evening or streaming movies or television shows. Without those forms of entertainment, the hours can stretch endlessly.

It sort of becomes like what you do in a power outage. Sure, you could sit and play board games by candlelight, and it’s fun for the novelty, but all along, you wish your phone had a full battery and your TV would turn on. 

  1. You Have to Learn How to Allocate Supplies

Camping is all about properly budgeting supplies. Your backpack has finite room, so you have to pack wisely. 

That means learning how many clothes are appropriate to bring per camping trip, and much more importantly, how much food and water you need.

If you mess this up–which, naturally, you will at the beginning when you’re new to camping–you could have to cut your trip short. 

The Pros and Cons of Glamping

Table comparing the pros and cons of glamping.

Pros

  1. You Won’t Want for Much

Glamping is a truly lavish experience in every sense of the word. You have electricity, lights, running water, refrigeration, and a comfy bed. It truly doesn’t get any better!

You will love the glamping experience if you try it because everything is so well-equipped that all your needs are more than taken care of. 

  1. You Can Enjoy the Outdoors, But Only as Much as You Want

The outdoors are definitely fun, but they’re also warm, dirty, and full of bugs. 

When glamping, you can take day hikes, go canoeing, or do whatever you like for however long you wish. Then you can retire to your cabin or yurt, shower off the day’s messes, and go to sleep feeling clean and fresh.  

  1. You Can Stay Connected to the World

As nice as disconnecting can be, there’s something comforting about staying connected, right? It’s kind of what’s expected of all of us.

If you squirm if you have to spend more than a few hours away from your phone, glamping gives you the freedom to check your emails, your social media feed, your texts, and all that jazz since you can always charge your phone.

You usually have a much stronger Internet connection in a yurt or farmhouse as well. 

  1. You Might Later Decide to Try Camping

At the very least, glamping is a great way to experience what camping is like but without all the commitment. After a few successful and enjoyable glamping expeditions under your belt, you might decide to go camping someday. 

Cons

  1. Glamping Is Not Real Camping to Many

Is glamping technically a form of camping? Sure, it’s got “amping” in the name!

That said, you’re not roughing it the same way that you do when camping, so some have argued that glamping isn’t really camping.

Of course, at the end of the day, it only matters how you feel about glamping, but this is still something to know. 

  1. You Might Not Spend Much Time Outside

When your bed is warm and cozy, the shower is spacious, and the food inside is delectable, why venture outside? The longer you stay on your glamping trip, the harder it can be to justify going outside, which is supposed to be the whole point of camping! 

  1. It Can Be Expensive 

Unless you’re a very stripped-back and simple kind of person, then camping isn’t the most inexpensive activity, but glamping will be considerably costlier. You’re essentially paying for a hotel and all your camping essentials on top of it. 

Final Thoughts

Camping is a way to get back to nature and does entail roughing it, as they say. 

Glamping ditches all those rough and tumble aspects of camping and puts a roof over your head, provides running water and electricity, and grants you a comfy bed to sleep in.

Now that you’ve read this guide, you can more easily decide if camping or glamping is right for you!  

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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